Workers’ Compensation

Can I file a workers’ comp claim for chemical injuries if there were warnings in the work area?

In Des Moines, there were four Emergency Response Notification System (ERNS) incidents in 2012 (work-related or not) involving chemicals and other harmful substances. Because of the serious injuries these accidents can cause, the stakes are high for victims of ERNS incidents.  Workers’ compensation covers all injuries that occur in the scope of employment regardless of fault, except in limited conditions like when the employee is intoxicated. So if you were hurt at work because of chemical exposure, you can pursue a workman’s compensation claim regardless of fault and regardless of whether warning signs were present.  If you’re filing for workers’ comp, be sure that you receive a fair evaluation from the employer-chosen doctor. Long-term effects on your health and ability to work are important in ... Read More »

Who makes decisions on a workers’ compensation appeal?

Different professionals can make decisions in workers’ compensation appeals depending on where the claimant is in the appeals process. After a workers’ compensation insurer denies or reduces an employee’s claim, the employee can file a petition for arbitration with the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner (IWCC).  There is a discovery phase that commences before the hearing which is also known as a trial. In the discovery phase, the parties exchange physical evidence and interrogatory (questions the other party has to answer) requests. Also, depositions may take place before the hearing. Hearings with a Deputy Commissioner (who is also known as an ALJ/Administrative Law Judge) are similar to lawsuit hearings before other judges. ALJs interpret listen to and decide the evidence along with making rulings on government administrative ... Read More »

Can I file for workman’s comp in Iowa if the injury occurs while I am traveling for business out of state or overseas?

Yes, generally, workers can file claims for an injury that they sustain during the scope of their employment when out of state or overseas, provided they meet certain standards for eligibility. For example, if an employee based in Des Moines is traveling to another state for a client meeting, and is struck by a car while walking from the hotel to the meeting, the injuries the employee sustains are covered under workers’ compensation.  There are some limits to the “scope of employment” rule. Travels between an employee’s home and place of business are not covered under workers’ compensation’s “coming and going” rule. When employees travel, activities that are outside the scope of employment, like going out for recreation after normal work hours, for example, are ... Read More »

Does your employer have workers’ compensation insurance? How can you be sure?

If you’re injured at work, your employer’s workers’ comp insurer pays for your medical expenses and provides disability benefits. The vast majority of employers in Iowa are required to carry insurance policies to secure your right to workers’ compensation payments. But how do you know that your employer is following the law? What should you do if you’re unsure your employer is carrying appropriate insurance? Which employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance?  Every employer in the state of Iowa is required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance on behalf of their employees, unless that employer is specifically exempted. The employers who do not have to maintain insurance are very limited, though. Even if a company is not based in Iowa, the employer will still ... Read More »

Will I have to attend a hearing for my workers’ comp claim in Des Moines?

If you were injured at work, and filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, you may be confused about what happens next. Do you need to go to court? Will you appear in front of a judge? Do you need an attorney?  Workers’ compensation claims are filed with the Division of Workers’ Compensation in Des Moines. Most claims do not require a hearing, but some will if there is a dispute. If you have been injured at work and are worried about what happens after you file your claim, read on to learn what you can expect in a workers’ compensation hearing.  When do workers’ compensation claims require a hearing?  After filing your initial petition for disability benefits, your employer, your employer’s insurance and your ... Read More »

What are the scheduled member disabilities for permanent partial disability benefits?

If you suffered injury in the course of your employment, you may be entitled to compensation for your injury. If your injury is permanent but you are capable of working, you could receive permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits designed to compensate you for the lasting injury.  Iowa provides a list of scheduled members that refer to the particular body part injured or impaired. Each body part has a number of weeks attached to it that dictates for how long you will receive benefits.  What types of injuries are eligible for scheduled member PPD benefits? PPD benefits are available to Des Moines workers who have permanently lost the use of a body part listed as a scheduled member by the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) as ... Read More »

What are the unscheduled, or body as a whole, disabilities for permanent partial disability?

Permanent injuries to the back, neck, or hips are classified as unscheduled, or body as a whole, disabilities under Iowa’s workers’ compensation laws. Des Moines workers who permanently injured an unscheduled member – that is, a body part not listed as a scheduled member – can still recover permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits.  What is a permanent partial disability?  A permanent partial disability is an injury that is permanent but does not totally prevent the injured person from eventually returning to work.  For example, losing a finger is a permanent disability, but a person’s ability to work most jobs is only partially limited.  What are unscheduled, or whole body disabilities?  There are two types of PPD benefits: scheduled member benefits, and unscheduled whole body benefits. ... Read More »

What is permanent total disability?

Permanent total disability benefits are provided via Iowa workers’ compensation. They are awarded when an employee in Des Moines suffers an on-the-job injury that prevents him or her from returning to gainful employment.  How long will I be eligible for permanent total disability benefits?  Iowa Code 85.34(3) outlines the parameters for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. According to these guidelines, you will receive PTD benefits as long as you are permanently disabled and unable to return to work.  When do permanent total disability benefits kick in?  There is no waiting period for permanent total disability, unlike other types of workers’ compensation disability benefits. Benefits begin from the date of injury.  How much money will I get through PTD benefits?  PTD benefits entitle you to 80 ... Read More »

What is the healing period?

The healing period is the time an employee recuperates after suffering an on-the-job injury or illness. The healing period, as defined by Iowa Code 85.34(1), may indicate the recuperation period associated with an on-the-job accident that results in permanent injury. Healing period (HP) benefits are available to Des Moines workers via Iowa workers’ compensation.  Am I eligible for healing period benefits?  Injured or ill employees are eligible for Healing Period benefits as they recover from a work-related illness or on-the-job accident, provided the injury resulted in a permanent impairment.  How much money am I entitled to through healing period benefits?  You will be eligible for 80 percent of your “spendable weekly earnings.” This is based on your post-tax, “take home” pay. This number cannot exceed ... Read More »

What is temporary partial disability?

Temporary partial disability (TPD) is a weekly benefit offered through Iowa workers’ compensation. TPD, as outlined in Iowa Code 85.32(2) to (5), is payable to injured workers able to return to work but in a lower-paid position. The pay decrease must be attributed to injury in order to qualify for TPD benefits.  For example, consider an injured construction worker in Des Moines who typically oversees crane operations. He may be able to return to work after a few weeks of recovery. However, instead of assuming his specialty position, he must take on a lower-paid job that is less physically demanding.  This worker likely would qualify for TPD payments. Below are some of the key points to understand about Iowa workers’ compensation TPD benefits.  Am I ... Read More »

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